Despite finish, Clayton Kershaw should come first for Dodgers this winter

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After 36 starts and 255 stellar innings, Clayton Kershaw finally let the Dodgers down on Friday, giving up seven runs in three-plus innings in Game 6 loss to the Cardinals. The defense played a role, but Kershaw was the first to admit afterwards that he just wasn’t his usual self. Maybe it was a bad day. Perhaps that first ever start on three days’ last week played a role. Regardless, it simply wasn’t meant to be tonight. At least he can take some solace in the likelihood that the end result would have been the same had he merely allowed two or three runs.

Now, the free-spending Dodgers enter a winter with question marks at two infield spots. They have to sort out what they’re going to do with their four starting outfielders in Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig and Andre Ethier. They’ll also have to decide whether to spend the money to add to a rotation that is sure to include Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu and is due to get back Josh Beckett (shoulder) for the opener and Chad Billingsley (elbow) in May.

But, most of all, the Dodgers need to make a deal with Kershaw, who is entering his final year of arbitration and who will be eligible for free agency next winter.

It shouldn’t be overly difficult, even though the deal will almost surely be the biggest ever for a pitcher. The market is already set after the Tigers gave Justin Verlander what amounted to a five-year, $140 million extension in March. It just remains to be seen whether Kershaw will hold out for $30 million per season or if he’ll settle for something in the $28 million range with an extra guaranteed season or two. Frankly, there’s no reason for him to take less than $30 million.

It will get done. The Dodgers have too much money to risk letting a $20 million-$30 million gap stand in the way of a deal. They’ll almost certainly have to pay more if they wait until he’s a free agent; both the Yankees and Red Sox should have plenty of flexibility next winter and they wouldn’t be the only ones willing to go $30 million and beyond.

Cardinals place Adam Wainwright on 10-day disabled list with right elbow inflammation

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The Cardinals placed right-hander Adam Wainwright on the 10-day disabled list with right elbow inflammation, the team announced Sunday. The move is retroactive to April 20. In a corresponding move, reliever John Brebbia was recalled from Triple-A Memphis.

This is the second time Wainwright has landed on the disabled list in a month, albeit the first time due to issues with his pitching arm. While the 36-year-old hurler doesn’t believe he’ll be out for long, the Cardinals won’t take any chances with a potential elbow injury, especially as Wainwright is just six months removed from arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow. As the extent of the issue has yet to be revealed, no specific timetable has been given for his return to the mound just yet.

The veteran righty earned his first win of 2018 last Tuesday, holding the Cubs to just four hits and one run over five innings during the Cardinals’ 5-3 win. He hasn’t looked particularly dominant on the mound, however, with eight walks and two home runs spoiling 15 2/3 innings of work so far this season.

The Cardinals have yet to announce a replacement for Wainwright in the rotation, but right-hander Jack Flaherty looks to be available to make a spot start if need be. Flaherty is 3-0 through three starts in Triple-A this spring, with a 2.25 ERA, 1.4 BB/9 and 9.0 SO/9 through 20 innings. He logged one start at the major-league level, delivering five innings of one-run, nine-strikeout ball in a 5-4 loss to the Brewers earlier this month.